NYCS Swag Spotlight: Trent Harmon

Trent Harmon

Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez

Trent Harmon was catapulted into the spotlight after auditioning and winning the final season of American Idol on Fox. His charm, incredible skill to connect to songs, and ability to be a true storyteller are what gave him an edge over other finalists.  Now, two years later he has honed his songwriting craft and with the guidance of a major label, Big Machine, has released his debut album, You Got ‘Em All.

Looking back at his childhood, Harmon tells New York Country Swag about growing up in rural Mississippi. “I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to do music, quite honestly, it’s a cliche story, but nobody from my neck of the woods really makes it out of that neck of the woods,” he says.  “I was twelve when I bought my first guitar at a pawn shop.  It took me several years before I could play it.  Then, I started writing songs, too”

Harmon’s parents owned a small steakhouse near their home and growing up working there was a part of everyday life.  When he realized his talents were better served entertaining the customers rather than cleaning up after them, he started singing and taking requests.  “I didn’t realize it then, but I was getting my chops as a performer, those were my first gigs. I quit waiting and cleaning tables, I started playing songs and played for a crowd,” he recalls.  Almost all of the songs that were requested were from the country music genre, but Harmon wasn’t only a fan of country music, he listened to southern rock and was a huge fan of Elvis Presley.

After playing gigs in Memphis, Nashville and Little Rock, he had all but exhausted his options during a six or seven year period.  Running out of money, he decided to take a chance and audition for American Idol. During the toughest week of the contestants journey, Hollywood Week, Harmon suffered through mono to impress the judges and went on to win the entire competition.

He explains that although the industry sometimes regards the winners of national singing competitions as making it easy, he explained that he had to fight through those ceilings to get where he is now.  “Idol showcased one of the main reasons I started doing this, I do consider it a job, it’s how I pay my bills, I take it very seriously,” he tells us. “There might be a weird stigma that you do win Idol and ‘Are they really a musician or are they a reality TV person.’ He took time off after his big win to really focus on writing music, writing a song a day for two years and deciding what he wanted to say with his music.

The title track from his debut album was written in less than an hour, Harmon tells us.  After calling his girlfriend and giving her the great news that his label was ready to release his first single to radio, she gave him the news that she would be moving to Thailand to follow her dream of teaching.  After that devastating phone call, he sat down in a co-write with Justin Ebach and Jordan Minton.  He almost canceled that day but decided to keep the session, and luckily poured out his heart into one of his most personal songs yet. “It was a good day to not cancel,” he laughs, “Let that be the title of your piece.”

Back in February, New York Country Swag caught Harmon when he performed at the Big Machine Luncheon during Country Radio Seminar where he performed “You Got ‘Em All” for radio executives and people who work in the music industry.  “I had one job that day and that was to solidify myself a slot for the next year as a relevant up-and-coming artist in the country format,” he recalls.  He did just that, singing the next single from his forthcoming album and the full room of people, who are not easily impressed, stood up and cheered when he finished.  “When they stood up and I got the standing ovation and everyone clapped, that was one of those moments, that was arguably as big for me as winning the show that night, it was a different kind of win. It’s validation that you are doing something right.  It was the right song, the right time, and the right people to hear it at that moment.” He tells us,  “It was like all of the stars aligned.”

Focusing his energy and songwriting into his debut album, Harmon explains that you never know as an artist if you will get a chance to put out a second album, so he wanted to fill the first full-length with songs and stories dedicated to the people who have helped him get where he is today. “I made a list of the people who were instrumental in getting me to this point and I tried to write a song to each of those people and if it was good enough it made the album,” Harmon tells us. It is a compilation of gratitude to his family, friends, and fans who have lifted him to this point in his career.

Heading out on tour this summer with Rascal Flatts and Dan + Shay, Harmon is looking forward to seeing a bunch of his fans who are nicknamed “The Harmonies” as well as making new fans. For his full tour schedule head to www.trentharmon.com and be sure to continue to follow his journey on social media Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Craig Campbell

Craig Campbell

Photo Credit: Kelly Marie Photography

Blending traditional country with a modern twist, Craig Campbell is our next Swag Spotlight.  Growing up in Lyons, Georgia, he was a country music fan from a very young age, even winning a singing contest when he was fifteen years old.  “That’s when I realized I really loved being on stage, and so fast forward a few years I graduated high school, I worked a few years as a correctional officer then I put a band together and we played nationally at bars and honkey tonks,” he tells us. His influences that have shaped his sound include 90’s country, Travis Tritt, Clint Black, Tracy Lawrence, and Brooks and Dunn which is what his brother would always play in the car on their way to school.  “I think the early 90s was the best era of country music,” he laughs.

After playing in a band for two and a half years, Campbell decided to make the move to Nashville to further pursue his career, singing demos for other songwriters, playing on lower Broadway and even playing piano for artists on tour including Luke Bryan. Fast forward to last summer, Campbell was invited to be an opener on Luke Bryan’s tour.  “It was great, being able to say I was in his band and then to fast forward and then get to open his shows, it was pretty cool and being able to go out on that big tour with one of my buddies was even more special,” he tells us.  “I watched every show and learned that the bottom line is when people pay to come see you play, they just want to have a good time and no matter what it takes, it’s up to the artist to be an entertainer and make it happen and I took it to heart.”

Campbell has had success over the years by releasing songs to country radio and is gearing up to release his next EP this Friday, June 8th.  The EP will feature two versions of the heartfelt “Outskirts of Heaven” as well as his latest single, the flirtatious “See You Try”.  After his record label played the song which was written by James McNair, Bart Butler, Jordan Schmidt, and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line, Campbell knew it was a great song and wanted to quickly record it before any other artists had a chance to get their hands on it.

As if releasing his new EP this week isn’t exciting enough, Campbell is hosting the 6th Annual Craig Campbell Celebrity Cornhole Challenge in Nashville during CMAFest. The annual event has raised over $300,000 for FIGHT CRC (Fight Colorectal Cancer), a nonprofit organization working to increase awareness, education, and research on colorectal cancer – the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among adults in the U.S.  The cause is close to Campbell’s heart who lost his father to the disease when he was just eleven years old.

The all-star lineup for the challenge this year includes Russell Dickerson, Lindsay Ell, Walker Hayes, Brett Kissell, Nascar driver Scott Lagasse Jr, LOCASH’s Chris Lucas and Preston Brust, Jerrod Niemann, Taylor Phillips, Dee Jay Silver, Tegan Marie, The Cadillac Three’s Jaren Johnston and Kelby Ray and Brett Young.  “It all started when I got my own platform if you will, I wanted to do something I guess looking around there were a lot of free shows to raise money, golf tournaments, and fishing tournaments and nobody was doing a corn hole tournament and everyone loves cornhole and it is a game that everybody can play so I felt like doing this tournament to raise money for colon cancer was perfect,” he tells us about the decision to co-host the event.  Each artist will be teamed up with a fan who won an online auction to attend the event, all of the proceeds benefitting FIGHT CRC.

For more information about the event or to learn more about Craig Campbell, head to his website here. Be sure to follow Craig on all of his social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Natalie Stovall

Natalie Stovall

Natalie Stovall had quite the different upbringing compared to other children her age.  She explained her backstory to New York Country Swag in a recent phone conversation.  When she was very young, she knew that she wanted to play music and be on stage for a living.  She started playing the fiddle when she was four years old, growing up in a small town about an hour outside of Nashville.  Her parents were very supportive, driving her back and forth to all of her lessons whether it was for the fiddle, acting or singing classes.

Since she spent so much time in the car, she recalls always listening to music through the car radio. “I was such a child of the radio, it didn’t matter if it was country or top 40, but I kind of knew every song on the radio. I would do homework and listen to music in the car,” she tells us. She was enamored by the making of Michael Jackson’s music video “Thriller” from a very young age, she explains “Thriller” and Cinderella were on repeat in her house.

“I grew up playing and when I was ten I auditioned for a show called ‘The Opry Land Kids Club’ it was kind of like the Mickey Mouse Club type of show, but it was in the same park as Opryland USA,” she told us.  From then on she took every opportunity to be on stage performing, singing and playing her fiddle for an audience. She attended college in Boston at a music school, perfecting her craft until she finally graduated, came right back to Nashville and has been writing and performing ever since.

She explains that most artists don’t spend as much time as she did on the road in the beginning, but right after college her love for being on stage has kept her traveling and playing gigs across the country. “I very quickly started playing over 200 days a year, I realized I had to start asking for days off or I would never be home,” she laughs. “I love being on the road, being on stage, that is where the magic happens and that’s where I want to be as much as possible.”

She has learned that balance is the key component in this industry, balancing her time out on the road with being home and writing new music as well as a balance between recording outside cuts that move her and recording her own songs.  “Nashville is the epicenter of great songwriters and incredible songs, there are more songs that have been written here that are just mindblowing, that will level you,” she tells us “That’s one of those things that Nashville has such an incredible wealth of music that I always want to be open to all sides of it.” When Stovall hears a song that she wishes she wrote, that is how she knows it should be something she should consider recording for her own projects.

Her latest single “Making Out in Cars” is one of those songs that she did not write, but knew right when she heard it that it should be recorded for the world to hear. “It’s messy and complicated but it’s also hopeful and it’s all of the emotions at once; it’s like a snapshot of someone’s life and I just think it’s such a cool song,” Stovall says about the song.

She is looking forward to continuing to release music a little at a time and get to support that music on the road this summer. For tour dates head to nataliestovall.com and be sure to follow Stovall on social media: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Tenille Townes

Tenille Townes

Photo via tenilletownes.com

Tenille Townes grew up in Grand Prairie, Canada, about a 45-hour drive away from her current hometown of Nashville, Tennesee.  Townes describes how country music was a big part of the identity of the people in Northern Alberta, always being played around the kitchen table as well as in the tractors on the farms.  Her parents taught her the meaning of hard work from a young age, starting their own business out of their garage, showing her that anything you put your mind to, you can go after.

“I fell in love with music in the backseat of the car and would follow along with all of the lyric booklets and obsess over all of the songwriters and my favorite artists and dreamed of coming to Nashville,” Townes tells us in a recent phone conversation. She explains that what she listened to growing up all depended on who was at the steering wheel. Her dad loved rock music and always played U2. While her mother was a big listener of powerhouse woman vocalists including Shania Twain, Martina McBride, and the Dixie Chicks. Her grandparents however really set the tone for her love of country music, playing Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and even Elvis Presley. “The storytelling aspect is something I love and have grown to love even more since moving to Nashville,” she explains. “The writers like Lori  McKenna, Caitlyn Smith, and Patty Griffin… I just love that element of the songwriting parts of music.”

Her grandparents gave her her first guitar when she was fourteen years old, and she made her first writing trip to Nashville shortly after that.   From a young age, she was in awe of Music City and the community of songwriters it nurtured.

Another element of her life that was important to her besides making music was philanthropy.  Big Hearts for Big Kids is an organization Townes is involved with that has raised over 1.5 million dollars since its inception just under a decade ago.  “Honestly, to me that is what music is for, that’s what it always been about.  I am lucky to have grown up in a home that believes in the power in looking out for one another and that is part of what we did as a family.  As a community you show up at all kinds of local events and reach out your hand to whoever you could,”   she thoughtfully explained. Organizing the concert in her hometown each year and raising money for this shelter is something she is most proud of, seeing a small group of people come together to really make a difference. We asked if it was something she would be interested in continuing now that she has moved to Nashville to which she told us  “Absolutely, one of the things I am most excited for is to draw a spotlight to the things that I love and that I am passionate about and be able to see how that can grow alongside the music.”

Townes has been writing and honing her craft ever since she moved to Nashville four years ago, getting into writing rooms with some of the best writers in town. She released “Living Room Worktapes” which is a project featuring four songs she has written and recorded in their rawest form, no fancy production just her impeccable voice and her meaningful lyrics. “A lot of times Nashville songwriting can feel a lot like a living room where you are sitting around having a conversation with someone you just met or maybe some old friends and all of the sudden you are sitting around talking about something that inspires you and a few hours later you leave with this song that didn’t exist in the world before that moment,” she tells us. She wants the listener to feel the symbolism of a living room, a homey, common place you can have a conversation and feel less alone.

This summer Townes will join her idols Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town on the road for their Bandwagon Tour which will hit the tri-state area on July 19th at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater. “I am so excited to see all of these cities, the only one I’ve been to is Toronto so this is going to be quite the adventure,” she tells us.  Another exciting moment for Townes will happen on June 23rd, as she just announced via Instagram that she will be taking the stage for her Grand Ole Opry debut.  For more tour dates and tickets head to www.tenilletownes.com and be sure to follow Tenille on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Delta Rae

Delta Rae

Photo Credit: David McClister

Har·mo·ny (noun): The combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions having a pleasing effect.

Our Swag Spotlight this week shines on Delta Rae, a six-person band that knows a thing or two about creating beautiful harmonies. The band members are siblings Ian, Eric and Brittany Hölljes, as well as Grant Emerson, Mike McKee and Liz Hopkins.  Hopkins took time to chat with New York Country Swag about the band’s inception and their unique sound.

After meeting when they were pre-teens, the siblings and Hopkins formed a strong friendship in high school when they were in productions together and forged a four-part harmony in a vocal group. Remaining close all through college, brothers Ian and Eric decided to form a band and reached out to their sister and Hopkins to join, reuniting the old gang back in 2008.  Eric, who had been in a band with singer/songwriter and producer Mike Posner, and who had written his smash top 10 hit “Cooler Than Me” when they were at Duke University, met drummer Mike McKee and held on to his business card for two years before reaching out and asking him to join their new band.  McKee brought bass player, Grant Emerson in to meet the rest of the band and they just knew they had found their signature sound.

Rehearsing and perfecting their sound while living together in North Carolina, Delta Rae was formed. They officially played their first gig together back in October 2009.  “It was a house that had been neglected so Eric was in there killing spiders and snakes and ripping down funky 70’s wallpaper and we rehearsed every single day,” Hopkins laughs about getting their start.  Now living separately in Raleigh and Miami, the band meets in Nashville at least once a month to record demos, try out new songs and gather before leaving for tours.  When discussing their songwriting process Hopkins explains “Little teams form and then we bring it to the group if it I feels right for Delta Rae.  Ian and Eric are primary writers for the band they have been writing music together since they were seven and nine years old so they have a bond and groove when it comes to that.” she tells us.  “Brittany and I are getting more and more into writing and we do have some cool songs coming from Brit’s perspective, so the women are getting into it.”

 

They work together to decide on harmonies or melodies, depending on the song and always decide as a group which songs they think will work best for them.  “We’ve been together long enough that we know when a song is in our wheelhouse, and when it fits our four-part harmonies or southern gothic mysticism, that’s sort of where we live.” Their latest single, “No Peace in Quiet” was written by Eric after a horrible breakup.  Realizing the song was just a little too personal for him to sing himself, he asked Liz if she would sing it. “I said absolutely, I really thought it would be something he would sing, but he has explained that it was too raw for him to sing a song that came from such a painful place so I said, of course, I’ll sing it and I love singing sad songs anyway,” she tells us. “I think also that song resonates with people on a lot of different levels whether it is a breakup or experiencing loss, many people have gone through that feeling of being alone but not wanting to be alone.”  The haunting song showcases the band’s exquisite harmonies and ability to translate emotion into song. “I think a lot of times in this culture we are sort of socialized to not cry, or not feel sad. we get told to get buck up. But there is a time and a place to process your feelings and let it out and sometimes music is the way that you can do that, I’ve been very glad that we have a song that can be that for people,” Hopkins says.

Looking forward, Delta Rae is constantly writing and recording new music when they are not on the road and are looking to release a new project this fall. They will be performing Friday, May 18th at Gramercy Theatre. Click here to snag your tickets.  If you are heading to the show you can expect a night of incredible four-part harmonies, lots of storytelling, and dancing.  Performing songs from their most recent EP’s as well as throwbacks to their first two albums and maybe even some new music, you can look forward to a great night of music from such a talented group of people.

Keep up with everything Delta Rae by following along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Abby Anderson

Abby Anderson

“It takes a certain kind of weird to want to leave a social life to play music all day, but that’s me, just a big ol’ nerd that loves to sing,” says our next Swag Spotlight artist, Abby Anderson.  She laughs as she chats with New York Country Swag about her life leading up to releasing her very first single out to the world.

Anderson, born and raised in Dallas, Texas was the second oldest of seven kids, six girls, and one boy.  Growing up around music, she sang, played piano, and nurtured her creative side from an early point in life. After receiving some attention from playing piano one day, Anderson knew in her bones that she wanted to perform in front of an audience. Confidently, when she was just fifteen years old, she walked into her dad’s office and told him that she wanted to be homeschooled the rest of high school and move to Nashville.  Being the supportive parent she needed, he told her to graduate a year early and move there when she was seventeen and that is exactly what she did.  “My parents are awesome, they always taught us as kids, burn the ships, there’s no such thing as a plan B, you’re going to do something you better do it the best you can and you better be successful at it,” she explained.

Right upon her arrival into town she got to hustling, making connections and networking. “That is what’s so beautiful about Nashville, it’s so easy to meet not just people, but kind people who genuinely want to help you out,” she says of Music City.  Focusing on songwriting and getting into rooms with the right people, Anderson was signed to Black River Entertainment, after her friends pitched her songs to their A&R team.  Label head, Gordon Kerr sat her down and said he wanted to sign her, following the conversation, Anderson signed her record deal on the stage at the famed Ryman Auditorium.  “I am the luckiest girl to be over there, they are my family and my team and they are brilliant,” she exclaimed.

Her debut single, which was released last month “Make Him Wait” was written with Josh Kerr and Tom Douglas.  Kerr is a songwriter on Kelsea Ballerini’s smash hits “Love Me Like You Mean It” and “Dibs” and Tom Douglas is a songwriter on Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” as well as songs for Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Lee Ann Womack and many more country artists. Their latest collaboration, Anderson’s “Make Him Wait” started out a simple song about her current crush at the time. “Josh turned around to me and said ‘Well Abby, how do you get the guys what are your moves?’ and I told him ‘I make him wait for it, I make him work for it a little bit.’ He turned around and all of the sudden he was like “Make Him Wait” this is the song,” she tells us.  After the three discussed growing up what they had learned about relationships, and Anderson explained what her father taught her about her value and worth, the song was written in 45 minutes.

Anderson’s gentle vocals add such depth to the song, which takes you through courtship and eventually through the wedding day of a couple where the female realized chivalry is not dead and to expect it. It is empowering and a great reminder for women of all ages.  In a time when incredible music is being made by young females in the country music world, she is excited to be a part of this generation of well-respected women. “It’s so exciting and there is great music being made every single day by all kinds of artists and I’m just lucky that mine has a shot at being heard by a bunch of people,” she tells us.

This summer, fans all over the country will get to hear her new music, playing the Breakout Stage during CMAFest as well as shows in California, Boston, and Country Jam in Wisconsin. Hitting the radio tour circuit and opening shows for LANco and Russell Dickerson, Anderson has a busy summer ahead of her.  “It’s just so weird, I mean this in the most humble way, but I knew it was going to happen, in the fact that I knew I was going to be a performer, I knew I was going to get a record deal, but it was always a matter of okay but how, and okay but when? The how and when is what has me absolutely humbled, because I would never have thought this would happen this way this fast as it did, so I am very blessed.”

Be sure to follow Abby Anderson’s journey on her Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Home Free

Initially, the country music genre’s only all-vocal group Home Free was formed back in 2000 but were really thrust into the scene after participating and winning the 4th season of the singing competition, The Sing Off.  The group which is made up of five vocalists, Austin Brown, Adam Chance, Tim Foust, Rob Lundquist and Adam Rupp are our Swag Spotlight this week, as we focus on their unique brand and their beautiful harmonies.  Rob Lundquist spoke to NYCounry Swag about their tour, their sound and their niche corner of country music. “We have our own niche in this market for sure, nobody else is doing a cappella country, we get to be trailblazers in our own right, we figure out what we want to do and we can always try something else, it’s liberating,” he explains.

Although the majority of their music are covers with a twist on well-known country songs, they also dabble in writing, producing and creating their own original music. They have garnered over 215 million views on YouTube. “We try and put out two YouTube videos a month, we are not on the radio so that is our way to stay relevant and keep people engaged,” he tells us. “We were lucky enough to get with a pretty great management team, Works Entertainment and after the show is where we really started working, touring, making music videos and recording new singles all of the time and that’s really been why we’ve been able to hang around and keep growing.”

Most recently they covered Russell Dickerson’s “Yours”, and Lundquist told us that it was a no-brainer to cover that incredible love song.  As far as picking which songs to cover, he lets us know that it is a democratic process, each member must love the song in order for them to create an arrangement specific for them and their sound. They mainly think about what their fans will want to hear, what they think will reach new markets as well.  Their original song “Timeless” is a catchy tune with an amazing video, showing couples reenacting photos that were taken of them when they were much younger. Take a look at the touching video below.

Their Timeless Tour has hit over 30 cities over the country, including a sold-out stop at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium. The quintet will also perform at CMA Fest this year on the Riverfront Stage. Then continue the summer playing with The Oak Ridge Boys. “Tour has been great, we are all over the country.  People are coming out, we are playing some new markets that we haven’t played and it’s been really fun,” Lundquist tells us.

In a time in country music and music in general when the production and the instruments can sometimes overtake the lyrics of a song, Home Free has managed to push past needing that, creating their own brand using only the beautiful voices they were given.  For more information and tour dates head to www.homefreemusic.com

 

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Jordan Rager

Jordan Rager grew up in Loganville, Georgia, a very small town that didn’t offer much to do.  Yes, he played baseball but from an early age, he believed that music was an absolute dream job. His mother, one of his biggest supporters, would take him to bars and clubs when he was merely 14-15 years old.  That is where Rager cut his teeth, learning to perform for all different people, his mother always sat in the front row and then escorted him out immediately after he got off the stage. “I remember walking off stage that first show and I told her ‘I want to keep doing that’,” he tells us in a recent interview.

After finishing high school Rager decided college wasn’t for him and pursued his music career.  “I really wanted to dig into this music thing and give it my best shot,” he explained.  “I picked up a guitar and started learning how to play and started writing songs.”  He started writing with a few buddies who grew up in surrounding towns and they would carpool to Nashville a few times every month, eventually leading him to make the move permanently when he was 19 years old.  Focusing mainly on songwriting when he first got to town as well as what kind of artist he wanted to be and what he wanted to say, he worked hard to write music every day.

Eventually, Rager was asked to join Justin Moore’s Off the Beaten Path Tour, which gave him his first experience being out on the road. “The coolest thing about Justin is that he is genuinely an awesome dude on and off stage, so I really feel bad looking back now, but I basically shadowed him. I followed him around like a lost puppy because I wanted to learn everything I could from him,” he laughed. Learning not only the way that Moore interacted with his fans but also with the band leader, the crew, and even the vendors at the venue, he made sure everyone felt appreciated, something Rager has taken with him and will never forget.

His latest single “One of the Good Ones” was released earlier this month with Riser House Entertainment.  The nostalgia-filled jam was written by Ross Ellis, Chris Stevens, and James McNair.  Ellis, who he is close friends with Rager, sent him the demo, knowing what a big Atlanta Braves fan, in particular, a Chipper Jones fan he was. “From the first listen I knew it was something I had to have. I’ve never felt that way about a song before. It’s never been a first listen, that’s mine,” he explained. He told us about how it has been a few years since he released music, but now he feels that he has a real grasp on who he is as an artist and “One of the Good Ones” is the perfect reintroduction to that new sound.  “I didn’t know the difference between, ‘Oh that’s a good song’ and ‘Oh that’s a good song for me’. And I think this time around I have a much better idea of what I should and shouldn’t be doing.”

After signing a recording and publishing deal with Riser House Records, Rager talks what it’s like to work closely with his friend and fellow Riser House Records artist, Mitchell Tenpenny. “He is a good bud of mine and I get to watch all angles of his rise to stardom, which is cool and it’s been awesome to see him get going because that dude is immensely talented and one of the hardest workers I know, its great to see a good guy win.” Tenpenny joined New York Country Swag for a Live Swag Session in Times Square back in December.

Looking ahead, Rager is recording a brand new EP with songs that he has written over the past year and is excited to have his fans hear his new music. “I’m excited to get back on the road and kind of reintroducing myself to places I’ve been before and going back and playing some of my favorite parts and playing my new stuff for people. I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks about it and I am hoping for a great 2018,” he tells us.

Be on the lookout from new music from Jordan Rager, be sure to be following him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Lewis Brice

Lewis Brice

Yes, the last name may be familiar to country music fans, but Lee Brice’s younger brother, Lewis Brice, is paving his own way in the genre.  Growing up in a small town in South Carolina, Brice remembers being surrounded by music.  “My mom and her sisters had a group growing up called The Lewis Sisters.  My first name is my mom’s maiden name.  My mom and dad sang together too.”  As his older brother pursued a music career right out of college, he decided to take a different path and actually wanted to be a chiropractor. He loved science and anatomy, but after getting his associates degree he decided to move to Nashville instead of continuing the medical field track.

“Lee was already in Nashville and I played music around bars.  I was a young kid, came here wanting to hang out with my brother a little bit and have some fun.  Then, as soon as I got there, I was in the scene and I really loved it,” he tells us. “After about 3 years, it really came to the point where I had to figure out what I wanted to do.  I loved playing music so much, so I quit bartending and decided to make music full time and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Brice released his debut self-titled EP last year and has been playing those songs on the road, supporting the music. He is a co-writer on all six tracks, finding inspiration from conversations he’s had or things he has heard people say.  Another way he comes up with song ideas is watching movies.  “I love going to movies I am a big movie guy, I put that in my publishing budget so I can still go to movies because I get a lot of ideas from there,” he laughs.

 

 

His first single “Messin’ With My Mind” has over one million streams on Spotify.  Brice explains it is the most personal song he’s ever written.   The second single he is promoting is going to be “Alabama” which was written with his brother Lee.  “All of our friends had farm properties and fields, so instead of us going out to bars we would just go in the middle of the fields and just have a good time,” he says. “It wasn’t a crazy deep song but it was something that we lived and since it’s a country song, you’ve gotta put a girl in it, so we named her Alabama.” The production on the track really makes it a standout on the EP, something that both Brice brothers had a hand in as well.  The background singers bring a gospel feel, really elevating the song.

Spending his time before pursuing a full-time music career as a bartender at 12th and Porter, Brice has watched countless bands take the stage and has always paid very close attention.  Now that he is able to get on the road with artists such as Hank Williams Jr, The Cadillac Three, Jerrod Niemann and of course his brother Lee, he is still learning and taking in every aspect of performing to better his own career. “Learning their grind, their persistence, I’ve learned more about their work ethic than their stage presence,” he explains.  “How they have gotten where they are, whether it’s writing every day or producing every day, it’s really being on top of their P’s & Q’s. Every one of those guys is incredible and they all work really hard.”  Later this month, Brice’s name is on the bill for Stagecoach Festival where Lee is also playing as well as Garth Brooks.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2018, Brice is excited to play his new music out on the road and to promote “Alabama”.  He lets us know that back in December he went on a writers retreat and wrote five songs, six days in a row and he can’t wait for the world to hear the new music. He is hoping to continuously draw more interest and to release new songs for the next EP. Follow Lewis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Brinley Addington

Brinley Addington

A Tennesee native, this week’s Swag Spotlight shines on Brinley Addington.  Growing up east of Nashville in Kingsport, TN Addington was surrounded by his parent’s musical influences.  His mother loved Alison Krauss & Union Station while his father preferred Ricky Skaggs, James Taylor, and Jim Croce.  One of the first concerts he attended just happened to be Alan Jackson and Randy Travis, starting his love for traditional country music early.

After a life-changing trip to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry when he was just three years old, Addington tells us in a recent phone conversation that he can clearly remember being in that famous room.  “I remember the feeling, the story my parents tell me is that that day I was really cranky being a 3-year-old on a trip, whining and crying, but then when we got to the Opry and the curtain went up and I was just silent,” he recalls. “It’s just a special place. I love going and it is kind of the mark for me.”

From then on he would stand on the coffee table, pretending to be performing on the stage at the Opry.  As he got older he formed his own influences which included Tracy Lawrence, Joe Diffie, Tim McGraw, George Strait, and Garth Brooks.  Songwriting started early, Addington recalls freeform writing in English class and a poetry assignment. “I always enjoyed making things rhyme. The thing I love about country is lyrics and what they said, the thing that drew me to songs first were the lyrics I always paid attention to that,” he explains to us.  Towards the end of high school, he learned to play guitar and realized that he wasn’t just writing down rhymes, but he started writing songs.  Now looking back at his journey into songwriting he is grateful for the guidance he learned so early on. “I love songwriting, it’s a great outlet and I am very lucky that this is what I get to do every day,” he says.

His first cut came last year when Tyler Farr recorded “I Should Go To Church Sometime” as his next single.  Written by Addington along with Michael Hardy and Sarah Turner he recalls how the song completely changed his life.  Turner brought the idea to the write that day and as soon as she said it a light flip switched in Addington’s head.  “There is a lot of truth in it, if you grew up in church which I did, when you get older you maybe don’t go as much as you should and there is guilt surrounding that,” he tells us.  It’s not meant to make people feel guilty it’s just recognizing the thought that bad things go on in the world and it’s about stopping and reflecting and thinking ‘I need to pay more attention’.”  It was the first cut for all three of the songwriters and they got to experience that milestone together.

Addington’s debut single and the first off his new EP was released last Friday and is titled, “No Thanks”.  The track was written by Addington’s friends,  Ryan Beaver, Michael Tyler and Will Weatherly.  When discussing the concept for his new EP with Beaver, he heard the demo and flipped out over it and loved it. “I kept listening to it over and over and we got down to recording again and I asked if I could record it. They were gracious enough to let me,” he tells us. He loves how it is a fun and lighthearted song all about his favorite kinds of bars. “I’m really not into fancy places. I like going to hole in the walls with neon signs and Miller Lite and it works good for me,”  he laughs. “I would rather have a great time in a dive bar and any song that name drops Travis Tritt and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in the same song, I feel like that’s just something I had to be a part of.”

“No Thanks” is the first sneak peak listeners will hear of the forthcoming EP, slated for release later this month.  Addington wrote three of the five songs and they are all fun songs, great for a live show.  Instead of doing a typical industry showcase to introduce the new music, his team decided to host the EP release at one of the first places he played when he first moved to town, Nashville Crossroads on Broadway.

As for his plans for the rest of the year, he can’t wait to play the new music for his fans and get back on the road.  Be sure to follow Brinley on his social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Thanks for supporting Country Music in NYC!

Click Here to learn more about NYCountry Swag
+ Follow our Country Music Adventures on Instagram, @NYCOUNTRYSWAG!

– Team NYCountry Swag